Chicago scored a major culinary coup Thursday with two of its top restaurants awarded the highly-prized three-star Michelin rating.
Michelin’s first guide for restaurants in the midwestern metropolis, which once garnered the nickname Hogtown for its slaughterhouses, reviewed hundreds of eating spots and honored two dozen with its star system.
Rocketing to the top were Alinea and L2O, which joined just 91 other restaurants worldwide to earn three stars from Michelin.
Alinea features modernist cuisine inspired by the “molecular gastronomy” developed at Spain’s El Bulli, where chef Grant Achatz trained.
The young American chef’s work is particularly impressive given his battle to overcome tongue cancer that left him unable to taste for months in 2007.
L20 is a modern seafood restaurant run under the direction of French chef Laurent Gras, who worked his way through a who’s who of Michelin-starred kitchens before moving to the United States in 1997.
Three Chicago restaurants — Avenues, Charlie Trotter’s and Ria — were awarded two stars and 18 others were awarded one star.
“Michelin is showing the world what Chicago residents already know — this is one of the finest cities in the world to eat,” said Jean-Luc Naret, director of the Michelin Guides.
“Chicago is the beneficiary of a truly innovative spirit among chefs, who are willing to push culinary limits at all levels. The chefs in Chicago are among the world’s most creative.”
The guide also singled out 46 “inspector favorites for good value” restaurants where diners can get two courses and either a glass or wine or desert for under 40 dollars. The full guide reviews 342 restaurants in all categories and 39 hotels.